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ACIM Rules for Decision: Suspending Judgment

I want to look at the Rules for Decision in A Course in Miracles, specifically the first “rule.” It reflects the course’s radical pragmatism, especially with respect to suspending judgment as a means of securing happiness and inner peace, our own and everyone else’s.

Today I will make no decisions by myself (T-30.I.2:2).

The basic premise of decision-making (which is inseparable from the overall framework of A Course in Miracles) is that we never decide alone. We always choose with a partner.

You will not make decisions by yourself whatever you decide. For they are made with idols or with God. And you ask help of anti-Christ or Christ, and which you choose will join with you and tell you what to do (T-30.I.14:7-9).

Importantly, the partner – or teacher – that we choose to join with us in decision-making will always advocate for our happiness as it understands happiness.

Your day is not at random. It is set by what you choose to live it with, and how the friend whose counsel you have sought perceives your happiness (T-30.I.15:1-2).

God perceives our joy in terms of what we can give; ego, or anti-Christ, perceives our joy in terms of what we can get. God’s plan works. The ego’s plan has never worked, though it does sustain the ego.

Given those stark differences, it make sense to consider carefully how we make decisions.

There are two aspects of our declaration to make no decisions for our self that especially bear looking at.

First, in declining to decide by our self, we acknowledge an intention to refrain from judging what to do when it appears that choice or decision is called for.

Second, we will not substitute our own judgment about the situation to which we believe we are called to respond, because if we do, then we have established the rules guiding our response which can only produce “confusion and uncertainty and fear” (T-30.I.2:6).

It is the second element that is most challenging for us.

This is your major problem now. You still make up your mind and *then decide to ask what you should do. And what you hear may not resolve the problem as you saw it first. This leads to fear, because it contradicts what you perceive and so you feel attacked. And therefore angry (T-30.I.3:1-5).

We look at a situation, decide what it is, and then ask for help, pledging to accept without judgment whatever solution is offered.

But having already set up the problem, we are also setting up how it should be solved, and so we have effectively already dictated what the answer must be as well.

In that sense, in terms of insisting on our own judgment, we are in as deep as we can go.

So the real work is not so much encountering problem after problem and asking for divine assistance in resolving them as they appear, but rather in giving attention to the belief system and conditioning that gives rise to “problems” in the first place.

This is subtler and harder to notice. But the rewards for doing so are greater.

Let me offer a personal example. Let’s say that I cannot pay my bills this week, which is a recurring challenge, and Chrisoula and I are both stressed and struggling to communicate fairly and honestly with each other about work and money.

I look at that situation and decide I have a) a money problem (there isn’t enough) and I also have b) a marriage problem (a wife who is way to focused on material things).

I then say to the Holy Spirit: I don’t know how to solve this problem so I am giving it to you. I will accept your solution without qualification or quibble. You fix money and my marriage.

But the Holy Spirit’s “solution” will likely confuse me because it won’t align with the problem as I’ve set it up. My judgment is already infesting the whole process because I have already decided what the problem is: lack of funds and a complaining wife.

The Holy Spirit’s solution might be, say, study lesson 76 more closely. And I’ll think that’s the answer to a different problem. My problem is not money and a wife that complains too much.

And then I’ll dismiss the Holy Spirit and double down on my own judgment.

A Course in Miracles is saying in this context: we can’t even effectively get to the “solution” stage because we haven’t looked without judgment at the situation.

For most of us – for me, certainly – looking at my life without judgment is very difficult. Indeed, it is a radical step. Of course my lack of funds equals a problem. Of course my marriage is stressed and suffering. Of course those situations need to be fixed (more money, mellower wife).

But note that A Course in Miracles is not saying our so-called problems won’t be fixed. Indeed, it is saying that if we don’t judge the situation, then the “answer” that we get will make us truly and deeply happy. It will being us inner peace that we can extend to the world.

So, again, in context, my so-called money and marriage problems can be redressed but only when I see them clearly. Perhaps the real problem is that I have forgotten that what I am is subject only to God’s laws, which only give and never take (W-pI.76.9:6).

And when I remember that, then my focus shifts from what I don’t have to what I can give, and I stop perceiving others as causes of my problems, and thus can be grateful again for their presence and companionship.

When we choose to not decide for our selves about any situation, let alone the decisions those situations seem to engender and necessitate, we will know an abiding happiness.

Your judgment has been lifted from the world by your decision for a happy day. And as you have received, so must you give (T-30.I.17:7-8).

We are generally okay with asking Jesus to help us so long as we get to decide with what we need help. But the possibility that we don’t even know what our problems are . . . that we don’t know what is working and what is not . . .

That is not something with which we are generally okay.

So in this way, the Rules for Decision are an intense way of guiding us to a non-judgmental mindset that applies to the whole of our living without exception. This is the point of the course’s emphasis on “generalizability” (T-3.V.2:3).

However, the upside to this radical surrender of judgment is significant. Inner peace and joy are given to us wholly and without condition and we will naturally give them away to others (T-30.I.17:6). All we have to do is realize and accept that a) we don’t know how to be happy and b) we are in relationship with an inner teacher who does know.

The point is to go deeply into this in order to see how it functions in our thinking, which is how we get clear on the need to change the patterns of our thinking. We become miracle-minded by seeing the need for a miracle, for a shift in thinking away from fear and towards love. We want to become habituated to miracle-minded thinking.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Larry Crowley March 27, 2019, 11:43 pm

    Great synopsis and I loved your personal example! You had me laughing out loud because it hit so close to home. If only we could remember the rules when we really need too……

    • Sean March 28, 2019, 7:49 am

      Indeed! Thanks for reading Larry. 🙂

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